Market or botanical garden?
Kamthieng Market is essentially what you would call a garden centre in the West, with flowers, plants, trees, garden equipment, furniture, decorations and so on for sale.
This is not the sort of market where foreign visitors flock to pick up bargains, but it is a good candidate as the city’s most picturesque and photogenic market. It's a great spot to wander, even if you don’t want to transport any Thai garden features home with you.
The market is huge—think of an open-air, spread out, flowery Chatuchak—and contains just about any kind of tropical or sub-tropical plant you can think of such as fully grown trees, bedding plants, potted herbs, rare collector orchids, temperate flowers such as roses, plus cacti, lilies and lotuses. Most stalls specialise so you’ll find one with 30 different species of begonia, another with 27 colours of bougainvillea. This is like a pot plant version of a botanical garden and fascinating to peruse even if you don’t list gardening as one of your hobbies.
Then there are the garden ornaments: pots, fountains, statues, coloured stones, paving stones cut from any rock imaginable, fish ponds, bird baths—some very tasteful and others so kitsch as to be almost cool.
If that still doesn’t grab you, wander over to the fish section and check out the spectacular fan-tailed guppies, Siamese fighting fish, ornamental catfish and the range of weird and wonderful aquarium decorations on offer.
Several coffee shops and food stalls are dotted around making for convenient pauses so you could spend a while wandering the market. If most of the items are too large to take home as souvenirs perhaps you could check out the seed packet shop and try planting a few exotic flowers or veggies at home (customs and quarantine permitting).
The market is set to the right of the road just before it meets the Superhighway and directly behind the Tesco-Lotus superstore. You could walk it in 30 minutes from Tha Pae or pay around 150 baht for a tuk tuk. A stop could be combined with a trip out to the National Museum. Tuk tuks aren’t too common at the market itself, so it may be worth arranging for your driver to pick you up or wait.
Kamthieng is located off Atsadathon Road, which leads off northwards from the northeast corner of the moat road to the Superhighway.
Based in Chiang Mai, Mark Ord has been travelling Southeast Asia for over two decades and first crossed paths with Travelfish on Ko Lipe in the early 1990s.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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